Eudora strong in final sub-state tune up
On the final day of the regular season, the Eudora Cardinals went into De Soto coming off a senior-night sweep and looking to build momentum toward Saturday's sub-state tournament.
But on Tuesday, the Cards couldn't decide which team was going to show up.
Eudora once again registered a sweep in a quadrangular that featured Gardner Edgerton, Santa Fe Trail, and the Wildcats (hosting their own senior night). Things started easy for the Cards, but they certainly didn't finish that way.
The trend began with Eudora's first opponent, Gardner Edgerton. The Cardinals quickly dispatched the Blazers in game one, 25-9, with tough net play and an insurmountable 18-4 lead.
In game two, the Cardinals took the hard road to victory.
The Blazers unexpectedly jumped out to a 7-2 lead by putting the Cardinals on their heels with an aggressive game plan not seen in the previous match.
Eudora tried to bounce back in the match, but the confidence that was overwhelming in the first game was nowhere to be found.
Gardner Edgerton used the absence to its advantage to build a lead as large as seven points.
However, with the score 18-11, the Cardinals woke up and began the long road back.
Eudora ran off five-straight points, cutting the lead to two with the help of a steady serve from junior Erin Kracl.
The match bounced back and forth as the Blazers desperately tried to keep the advantage they had so quickly built, but the Cards proved to be too much.
With the score 22-20 in favor of Gardner, the Cardinals rallied with another five-point run to finish the game 25-22.
"We seemed to be a step behind on defense," head coach Jill Stutler said. "We definitely executed better in the first game than in the second."
The Cardinals moved on to face Santa Fe Trail in their second match of the night and the theme remained the same.
Eudora defeated the Chargers in game one with little fanfare, 25-17, but once again had difficulty in game two.
Santa Fe stayed toe-to-toe with the Cardinals for the majority of game two, dodging every strike Eudora tried to deliver.
The Cardinals found a way to finally put the Chargers away 25-23 as Kracl and sophomore Nikki Snider delivered kills for the final two points.
De Soto was the next opponent for the Cardinals and the Wildcats hoped to take advantage of the Cardinals game two woes.
They nearly did.
Game one went according to script, as De Soto was never really part of the Cardinals' 25-13 win.
Game two was another matter as the Wildcats gave the Cardinals everything they could handle in a thrilling 26-24 Eudora win.
De Soto overcame an early 6-1 deficit, closing the gap to 16-15. The home team then rode even with Eudora, tying the game at 24.
As the De Soto crowd tried to will its squad to a win, Cardinal senior Kelsey Epperson set the go-ahead and winning spikes to Kracl, quieting the crowd and giving Eudora its third win.
"The girls fought hard to pull out three wins tonight," Stutler said. "We were slow starters in the second game of each match. We need to do a better job of maintaining our momentum into the second game."
Eudora heads into the sub-state tournament Saturday and look to have a number one seed. The games Tuesday raised the issue of focus for the Cardinals, as Saturday's action could be the last of the year.
"We're focusing now on Saturday and taking one game at a time," Stutler said. "We are going to have to have better defense and execution throughout the day on Saturday."
Eudora (35-4) drew the top seed in Saturday's tournament. The Cardinals will face the eighth seed, Bonner Springs (7-27) at 2 p.m. Monday in Tonganoxie.
Eudora could face a re-match with De Soto in the second round, but No. 2 KC Sumner (24-8) or No. 3 Bishop Ward (21-12) stand as the Cardinals most serious challenges to a repeat trip to state in Salina.